Keeping the Romance Alive

Romance ala Kate CarlisleIf you read the Bibliophile Mysteries, you know that Brooklyn has a boyfriend. She didn’t always. In book 1, HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER, the man in question suspected her of murder, which put something of a damper on any sparkage they might have been feeling. But once Derek Stone got to know Brooklyn, he knew she could never commit murder. For one thing, she faints at the sight of blood. For another, he quickly discovers that she’s a seeker of justice as ferocious as he is, though he does it in a professional capacity while she’s an amateur sleuth. The moment he realizes that she’s not a murderer, the sparks re-ignite, and they’ve been together ever since. Which is an interesting challenge for me as a writer.

The Book Stops Here by Kate CarlisleTHE BOOK STOPS HERE is book 8 in the Bibliophile Mystery series. (It will be out in hardcover and ebook on June 3, and is available for pre-order now. You know, in case you’re so inspired. 😉 ) In my romances, the hero and heroine meet, clash, and fall in love all in one book, and then their story is over. I love that! I’ve always loved reading and writing romances, and that’ll never change. But with my mystery series, I have the pleasure of staying with the characters after their declarations of love, to see how their relationship grows and develops over time, just like in real life. The same couple continues to flirt and fall in love, and the love deepens the longer they know each other. It’s joyous!

But also just like in real life, there’s the danger that a relationship could go stale if one stops nurturing it. That’s where the “challenge” part comes in for me as a writer. I adore Brooklyn and Derek, and I want them to be happy, but they need to be happy in a way that remains interesting to the reader. I can’t let them get into a rut. With each book, their relationship must progress, to keep it fresh for them, for me and for my readers.

A murder from time to time helps keep it fresh, too. Nothing underscores the importance of your loved one like a little mortal danger.

Kitten from The Book Stops HereBrooklyn and Derek are in love, but at this point, it’s still a new love. They still learn things about each other every day. In THE BOOK STOPS HERE, they’re in negotiations over what to name their new kitten. Brooklyn is charmed by the way Derek dotes on the adorable animal, and she discovers facets she never knew with each name he suggests.

Derek is charmed by Brooklyn’s nervousness about being on TV. She’s a consummate expert in her field, and she never has any difficulty talking about books. But this is different. She’s been hired as the book expert by an antiques appraisal TV show. When she allows Derek to see her uncertainty and her vulnerability, they grow closer yet.

I hope watching their love deepen over time is as fun for my readers as it is for me.

How do you and your honey keep the romance alive in your relationship? If you’re single, what great examples have you seen of real-life romance in your life?

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  • Jane says:

    Hello Kate,
    That kitten is so cute. Trying new things together and going on weekend getaways seems to work. Changing things up keeps it interesting.

    • Trying new things together…. and Golden Rooster makes three! New things you and your hubby can try with the Golden One: crowing at first light; dying your “combs” red; ruffling each other’s feathers… 😉

      But seriously, trying new things together is an excellent way to keep yourselves from going on auto-pilot when you’re out together. Even something as simple as going to a new restaurant can help you stay excited about life and about each other.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Kate

    I am loving this series and I love Brooklyn and Derek and their romance and of course all the family I need to read the last one yet so many books never enough time to read them all and then I can fall into the new one when I can order it fingers crossed it won’t be long. Hubby and I have been married for 37 years now and I feel that making time for us is one of the best ways 🙂

    Congrats on the new one

    Have Fun

    • Yes! You have to be diligent about carving out some time for the two of you as a couple. There are so many pulls on our time and attention, but time alone with your partner is vital to keeping the love. Congrats on reaching 37 years, Helen! That is so inspiring! 🙂

      I hope you’ll love THE BOOK STOPS HERE.

  • Alyn says:

    My husband sits and listens to me tell him about the books that I am reading.

  • Shannon says:

    When I was married, we kept the relationship fresh by going to the beach and spending 3-4 days there. There’s something special about walking the beach at sunrise or sunset–just being in the moment.

    As for watching a romance, it was my father going out into the wood and harvesting a whole armful of blue flags (basically wild iris) for my Mom every spring.

    • Oh wow, Shannon, your dad sounds like such a romantic man! That is beautiful, that he would put forth so much effort to make your mom smile every year. That is a lovely tradition.

  • Becke says:

    42 years for me and my dh. We married so young so of course we had issues to start. I told him maybe in our third year that no matter how mad I got, divorce would not be an option. We had to work it out.

    Not all relationships can or should be saved, but I think many just give up because it’s easier to cut it off than work it out.

    To do that, you have to talk about what you want. Too many women “assume” the dh will just get it. That just doesn’t happen.

    • YES! Each partner needs to be assertive in the relationship. Not aggressive or bossy, but we have to speak up about what we want. (Of course, understanding and accept that we won’t always get what we want is also a big part of a happy relationship.) We have to build the life that we want, the life that will make us each happy, and we can’t do that unless we articulate our needs.

      Congratulations on sticking together through 42 years so far!!! I wish you many more happy years together.

  • catslady says:

    i do think animals make a nice addition to a family – walk the dog together, watch the silly antics of the cats, etc. You do need to have some interests together and also some that you do apart.

    • Considering your username, I’m not surprised you’d say that! 😉 I’ve been toying with getting a puppy or a kitten for some time now, but I haven’t made the leap yet. Never thought of it as a romantic decision. That just might be enough to put me over the top!

  • Debbie says:

    After 25 years, I can’t say that it’s romance that keeps us together so much as when you come through tough times (and they do come) persevere, and come out the other side, high five, laugh, and move on. Yes, there are the dinners, and gifts, but the true romance to me is the companion through the storms.

    • Debbie, I think you’re absolutely right… and I also believe that the romantic gestures during the good times help us to get through those hard times together. They bond us and give us something pleasant to think about when times are tough.

  • Hi Kate –

    Hell if I know what holds everything together. We’ve been married 40 years and I haven’t a clue. Life just happens and we talk our way through it – and dance. Yeah! That’s the ticket! The secret to a long romance is making time to go out dancing. 🙂

  • Congrats on the GR, Jane! He will certainly spice up your day if not your marriage!

    I do so love the chemistry between Brooklyn and Derek! Can’t wait to read the newest! I enjoy series in which the reader sees the growing relationship between two people over several books. It makes for a comforting read.

    I used to do an exercise with my students about relationships. I would tell them to make a list of all the things they liked about their boyfriend / girlfriend and then make a list of all the things they didn’t like. If there was one thing on the list of things they didn’t like and thought for certain they could change then this was not the person for them.

    Acceptance is a big part of an enduring relationship. Over the years the very thing which attracted you to someone can sometimes be the thing that makes you nuts. Loving someone is about seeing the person’s flaws and loving them anyway.

    My Mom and Dad had a policy of never letting the sun go down on an argument. They settled things before they went to bed and that was it. And they danced. Kitchen dancing. We grew up groaning and laughing because my parents would turn the radio or stereo on and dance in the kitchen while Mom was cooking or cleaning up after dinner. They laughed a lot. And my Dad truly treated my Mom with the utmost respect. That is the thing I remember the most. He never saw her as the cook, the maid, or the housekeeper and he made certain we didn’t either. They were partners and we were always aware of it.

    • That’s lovely, Louisa, to grow up with parents so in love. Every child should experience that.

      I had a friend going through a divorce who visited once, and she talked about how nice it was to listen to my husband and me laughing. There hadn’t been a lot of laughter in her house in some time. Sad.

  • Kate,

    I do love the romance that’s continuing between Brooklyn and Derek! Can’t wait to see what name they pick out for the kitty.

    I’m getting to do a little of that continued relationship building in the Westen series as there’s a wedding in the works for a novella (book #4) I have planned for that series! I’m finding a few quirks of both the hero and heroine to add in! 🙂

    As for our marriage of 33 years? I’m with Donna in that I have no idea what holds it together besides talk, grit and determination! Laughter helps. Understanding each other’s little quirks and learning to work around them? Yeah, it’s like a giant puzzle that keeps changing. And I do love a good puzzle!

    • I think that “keeps changing” part is key. We must remember that our partners will change, and so will we, and we have to give each other the freedom to do so.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Kate, keeping romance alive in person or in books is a real challenge! I think all relationships (in real life) wax and wane. My DH and I have been married 21 years, but have been together 25 years. That’s a lot of years, especially for two people as opinionated and stubborn as we are! 😀

    One things that helps is that we share the same core values. Neither of us cares about “stuff” and not much about appearances. We value honesty, integrity and a sense of decency in others. We both love to laugh, too, which helps us out of lots of tense moments.

    I’m not sure we could have lasted the first few years without our kids as glue. Being so busy (and tired) kept us pulling together as a team. Now that the kids are grown, we are both more mellow and tend to let more roll off our backs than we used to. As for rekindling the romance, all it really takes is kindness and some small, thoughtful gesture. But alcohol helps, too. 😀

    • LOL!!!! A little lubrication to keep everything running smoothly? 😉 Love it!!!

      It’s interesting what you said about kids helping you stay together. I’ve wondered about that sometimes. I think that might be true only if you have the shared values you mention, because if you have different values and both feel passionately that you want your children to be raised with your values, then that could be a real source of contention.

  • Kate, how fun! I love stories with continuing couples. I agree that the relationship has to evolve, or it doesn’t stay interesting, but what you’ve done with Brooklyn and Derek has been great.

    The dh and I don’t do anything particular. We talk periodically about having a regular date night, but that doesn’t seem to last. The main thing we do is talk to each other about the things we care about. Even the minutiae of a daily routine can hide something that rankles or delights. So we try to focus on each other for at least part of every day.

    • Thank you, Nancy! That is so kind of you to say that you’ve been enjoying watching Brooklyn and Derek fall deeper into love.

      That focus thing is harder than it sounds sometimes, isn’t it? Hard to pay attention to the people we love the most when we have so many calls on our time. Good for you both for making it a priority!

  • Laura says:

    Like Debbie had mentioned, after several decades, the romance is different.
    I sometimes think we stay toggether because it would take a lot of energy to break a new partner in.

    That said, it is the small things that make a huge impression – remembering a birthday helps.

  • Dru Ann says:

    My friend has a great marriage. Every other weekend, they have date night away from the kids and every other month he takes her on a short weekend trip where they are both pampered at hotel and also to reclaim their love.

    • Hi, Dru! So great to see you here today. 🙂

      Wow, how sweet that they can find time on a regular basis to spend with each other. It should be a priority for every couple.